“Sometimes you have to roll a hard six,” Admiral Adama, BSG 75
Last Friday, we pulled out an old reliable favourite, Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game. Published back in 2008, this sci-fi themed game does an amazing job of capturing the flavour and intensity of the TV show. We’re not talking about the 1970s original series, but rather the 2004 reboot which brought a grim and grittier tone with it. It also brought along a new type of Cylon robot, one that was designed to mimic a human and to infiltrate.
We played a seven player game with one Cylon leader, two Cylons, and four humans. One of our more experienced gamers played the role of the Cylon leader, while the rest of us started to pick our character cards. There were two newbies who had never played the game, but were familiar with the Battlestar Galactica franchise.
After each player grabbed a character card and set themselves up on the gaming board, it was time to deal out the Loyalty Cards. The Loyalty Cards are a great dynamic that can change the game on so many levels. The Loyalty Deck is composed of a set of cards equal to the number of players multiplied by 2. For example, in our game, our Loyalty Deck was composed of 10 cards that stated “You Are Not A Cylon” and 2 “You Are A Cylon” cards. The deck is shuffled and then the first 6 cards are passed out to the players. The remaining cards are put aside until the halfway point of the game when the Sleeper Phase occurs and they are dealt out again. In this particular game with 7 players, setting up two decks with only 1 “You Are A Cylon” card is a good idea that ensure a fair balance.
The text on the “You Are A Cylon” card can be a lot to read (as there are game effects when you reveal yourself as a Cylon) compared to the “You Are Not A Cylon” card, so we have a house rule that makes everyone flip over and hold up their Loyalty Card for 10 seconds. Also, we tried another variant, which was to let the Cylon Leader know who the other Cylon was by having everyone open their eyes and only have the Cylons open their eyes. Our Cylon Leader then had to pull an Agenda card which lists the conditions under which they can achieve game victory. This card complicates the Cylon Leader’s life by imposing a specific requirement, either good for the humans or bad for them. Again, this mechanism tries to keep the game even, fun, and unexpected as it was in this game.
I pulled the first Cylon card and I was playing Laura Roslin, the President. I needed a plan and fast. The game starts off in the midst of a battle as the Galactica is under attack by the Cylon Fleet. Each player turn, the player draws skills cards relevant to their characters’ skills and then can move and take an action. For example, you can move to the hangar bay and launch yourself in a Viper, or go to a damaged location on the ship and use a repair card to restore the location.
At the end of each player’s turn, you then draw a Crisis card which is an event that requires players to cooperatively play their skill cards to meet the card’s requirements. For example, you may have a card called Water Shortage with a skill check of 13. Each of the skills have different colours and values while each Crisis card lists a subset of cards that count as positives towards meeting or exceeding that skill number. And of course, this is when you as a Cylon might want to play cards that count as negatives. As some of the skills are unique to characters, you might thing that this would be an easy way to root out the Cylon, however the game designers cleverly predicted this and built on it. Before each skill check, you add to cards from a deck of cards called the Destiny Deck which is composed of two of each of the skills cards and replenished when necessary. The resulting dynamic is that you can never be sure if the negative cards came from another player or if they came from the Destiny Deck.
That’s where the fun comes in. It didn’t take long after the first few skill checks for the others to see that there was indeed a Cylon present trying to disrupt things and that the table talk began with players becoming suspicious of other players. And that’s where you really have to be aware of what’s going on because as a Cylon, it isn’t simply about hiding among the humans, but sowing that mistrust and suspicion. So you need to actively join in on the table talk and start accusing other players of being the “Frakkin’ Toaster!”.
At the sleeper phase which takes place halfway through the journey to Earth, the rest of the Loyalty cards were distributed and unfortunately, I got the second “You Are A Cylon” card which was disappointing. It was an uphill battle, but I took a bit of comfort knowing that no one else knew that I had both cards and I was hoping to exploit their paranoia.
In the end, the humans successfully jumped to Earth and to victory, but not without taking significant hits to their population and morale, including the suicide of Dualla (since the morale counter dropped below 2, she was automatically executed). The Cylon Leader card was revealed and as most had suspected by then, it was non-hostile Agenda card that had him helping the humans get to Earth. It was a fun game and probably the best kind of first game you could have for our newbies.
Battlestar Galactica The Board Game is hands down the best themed based game I’ve ever played. It brings to life so many facets of the game and recreates not only the shows paranoia, but also its spirit. The game is also open to everyone and with six players needs about 3 hours to play. You don’t have to have enjoyed either of the BSG series to enjoy the game. If you’re a BSG fan, you need to get a copy of this game.
Battlestar Galactica The Board Game
Fantasy Flight Games
Cylons Threaten Humanity’s Last Hope of Survival
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is an exciting game of mistrust, intrigue, and the struggle for survival which places each player in the role of one of ten of their favorite characters from the show. Each playable character has their own abilities and weaknesses, and all must work together in order for humanity to have any hope of survival. However, one or more players in every game is secretly a Cylon, and wants the humans to perish.
For 3-6 players; playable in 2-3 hours.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game includes-
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Game Board
- 10 Character Sheets
- Over 50 Tokens
- More Than 230 Cards!
- 32 Highly Detailed Plastic Ships
Jason Shayer has been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blog at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com.